The results of the last sociological survey in Ukraine (November 2018) show the highest level of trust to the church and its leaders in comparison with other social institutions. The great confidence in the church is the reason why the Ukrainians turn to religious discourse. The aim of this research is to analyze verbal representation of the “sin” concept. The free word association test (WAT) was used for psycholinguistic analysis. An associative field is a specific cognitive structure that takes part in the formation of an individual’s linguistic worldview. Such associative field consists of its core and periphery. The core contains high frequency reactions and the periphery does the low frequency ones. The article reviews the main linguistic, sociological, philosophical and theological Ukrainian and foreign studies of the “sin” concept. The free associative experiment was conducted in 2017. The research covered 246 students aged of 17-20 years from Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University (102 students in biology; 96 students is psychology; and 48 students in publishing); they answered the questionnaires in written. As a result of the free WAT, 260 responses to the stimulus word of “sin” were obtained, they showed 114 different associations. Among the most frequent responses were “"hell”, “evil”, “murder” and “confession”. The logical and grammar characteristics of the obtained associations were analyzed. There were mainly the central paradigmatic reactions to the stimulus word of “sin”. The thematic features of the associations to “sin” were analyzed and four different thematic groups were identified: religion, morality, behavior and actions, emotions and feelings. The most numerous thematic group is “religion”. The least numerous thematic group is “emotions and feelings”. In conclusion, we found that the concept of "sin" is displayed on the cognitive world map as a religion and specific activity. Students view sin through the lens of religious beliefs, often refer to repentance, or view it more narrowly - through the lens of specific actions that they condemn and consider sinful. Less students talk about conscience and a moral evaluation of sin. Most students consider sin as a negative phenomenon that brings negative emotions. However, there are students who associate sin with laughter.
Prospects for further study of this problem lie in an in-depth psycholinguistic analysis of religious discourse.
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